For years Philips has witlessly reissued, over and over, Edo de Waart's not particularly spectacular Rotterdam recording of Saint-Saëns' "Organ" Symphony, letting this superb version, one of the great modern recordings of the piece, languish out of print. If you missed it during its 15 minutes of availability back in 1985, here's your chance to make amends…. Haitink's Bizet Symphony always has been a reference recording, distinguished by its stunning playing (marvelous oboe solo in the second movement) and unfailing elegance of phrasing. Indeed, the approach is quite similar to de Waart's
The Symphony in C is an early work by the French composer Georges Bizet. According to Grove's Dictionary, the symphony "reveals an extraordinarily accomplished talent for a 17-year-old student, in melodic invention, thematic handling and orchestration." Bizet started work on the symphony on 29 October 1855, four days after turning 17, and finished it roughly a month later. (…) The symphony was immediately hailed as a youthful masterpiece on a par with Felix Mendelssohn's overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, written at about the same age, and quickly became part of the standard Romantic repertoire. It received its first recording on 26 November 1937, by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Walter Goehr.
This disc contains all of Dukas' orchestral music except for the early Polyeucte Overture. One of the most self-critical composers that ever lived, Dukas literally wrote one of everything–one symphonic poem, one symphony, one piano sonata, one variation set, one opera, one overture, and one ballet. Along with a few other small things, that's it. Naturally, everything that he let survive is of very high quality, but ironically only one work– The Sorcerer's Apprentice–has become popular, and that amazingly so, ever since Mickey Mouse played the part of the apprentice in Fantasia. If you enjoy that piece, you may want to give some of the other works a try, and here's the best way.
A very intriguing CD, since Karajan was almost the mirror opposite of Stravinsky as a conductor. We get a prime example in this Symphony in C from 1970 of turning an angular "secco" work of neocolassicism into something quite romantic. The softer parts are elegant and even pretty; the string sound is full and sweet; climaxes are heartfelt and dramatic. so many deviations from Stravinsky's own style could sound very wrong, and if you cock your ear a certain way, Karajan's reading seems foreign to the composer's intentions. But it's awfully impressive sheerly as music-making…
What a versatile artist Steven Isserlis is. Having made his name as a sympathetic interpreter of a wide variety of romantic and modern music, here he shows he can be just as persuasive in eighteenth-century repertoire. His stylistic awareness is evident in beautiful, elegant phrasing, selective use of vibrato and varied articulation, giving an expressive range that never conflicts with the music’s natural language. In the cello concertos he is helped by an extremely sensitive accompaniment, stressing the chamber musical aspects of Haydn’s pre-London orchestral writing. The soft, intimate sonority at 3'06'' in the first movement of the D major is a typical example. The Adagios are taken at a flowing speed, but Isserlis’s relaxed approach means they never sound hurried. The Allegro molto finale of the C major Concerto, on the other hand, sounds poised rather than the helter-skelter we often hear. In his understanding of the music, Isserlis is a long way ahead of Han-na Chang, whose version places the emphasis on fine, traditional-style cello playing. Mork’s vivacious, imaginative performances characterize the music very strongly, but my preference would be for Isserlis’s and Norrington’s lighter touch and greater refinement.